The suppressed report, a 90-page document, which analyses the available evidence on fluoride at the time it was written, argues that mandatory fluoridation is a breach of the human rights of Irish citizens as it is in contravention of the Council of Europe’s ‘Convention on Human Rights and Bio-medicine’ (1997). And it concludes that, in light of all the evidence, and in particular considering the fluoride overexposure risk to bottle-fed babies, water fluoridation in Ireland should cease immediately.

Had its recommendations been acted on, it would have brought an end to the now 50-year-long practice of dosing the (26-county) Irish population with hydrofluorosilicic acid through the public water supplies.



  1. The rates of dental decay and the lack of dentists justified the introduction of a prophylactic measure such as water fluoridation.
  2. Those who advocated water fluoridation were motivated by concern about the serious decline in dental health standards.
  3. We believe that basic health and hygiene habits in Irish society have changed dramatically in the intervening period.
  4. We note that dental health has improved to the same degree in countries where there is no water fluoridation.
  5. The Department of Health’s assessment of the overwhelming benefits of water fluoridation is not justified.
  6. While positive aspects of fluoridation have been over-stated, the growing negative impact has not been properly recognised. The Committee views the officially reported seven fold increase in fluorosis since 1984, as completely unacceptable, requiring immediate action.
  7. The Committee is disappointed and alarmed that no general health studies, as provided for in S.6 of the 1960 Fluoridation Act have ever been carried out, particularly considering that four in ten 15 year olds are now affected by fluorosis. By disregarding this provision of the Act, the Department of Health has left itself liable for the harmful effects of fluoridation of Irish drinking water.
  8. It is the view of the committee that the Department of Health has failed to offer a coherent scientific justification for continuing the policy of water fluoridation and has notably failed to deal with Dr Connett’s 50 Reasons to oppose fluoridation either in the Fluoridation Forum or since.
  9. Despite emphasising the expertise of its membership, the Fluoridation Forum failed to apply key principles of toxicology, for example the toxic dosage for Irish children. Another failure was to overlook the synergistic effects of fluoride chemicals with other substances (e.g. aluminium) that are ever-present in many Irish drinking water supplies.
  10. The Committee notes that the recommendation of FSAI advising against the use of fluoridated water for the bottle feeding of babies was changed subsequently following representations from a minority of members in 2001.
  11. The Committee believes that the manner this was done was both irregular and suspect and represented a “process mess”. The replies given to the former Chair by Dr Wayne Anderson in this regard were unsatisfactory. The Committee notes a similar change in advice on using non-fluoridated water in infant formula by Prof John Clarkson.
  12. The committee notes that the vast of majority of those on the Forum for fluoridation had records of being strongly in favour of water fluoridation.
  13. It is clear and, indeed, accepted by both the pro- and anti-fluoridation sides that the action of fluoride is topical and not systemic.
  14. We note that of the 33 recommendations of the Fluoride forum, not one has been implemented to date.
  15. We believe on the basis of the international studies there would be no long-term increase in dental decay if fluoride were not added to Irish drinking water.
  16. There is no evidence to suggest that Irish people are fluoride deficient, in fact, the evidence at hand suggests that we have too much fluoride in our systems.
  17. On the basis of the available archive material the Committee believes that the original Fluorine consultative council did not approach its task with an open mind. It would appear to have had a very strong pro water fluoridation bias.
  18. We are disappointed that only the minutes of one of the meetings of the Fluorine consultative Council survive, the others having been destroyed in a flood.
  19. It is now accepted by all sides that the sources of fluoride in our diet have increased dramatically since the introduction of water fluoridation.
  20. The Committee believes that fluoride toothpastes have contributed to a decline in dental caries in this country and other states.
  21. Fluoride toothpastes should carry a warning about the dangers of children swallowing fluoride toothpastes, and children properly supervised when brushing their teeth using fluoride toothpaste.
  22. The increase in membership of Irish Dentists Opposing Fluoridation from single figures when the Forum reported, to over 120 dental practitioners today reflects the growing professional opposition to the policy.
  23. There is sufficient scientific evidence in relation to health effects – albeit contradictory – to justify the application of the precautionary principle. We also note the latest advice from the American Dental Association which advises parents to choose non-fluoridated water for the bottle feeding babies.
  24. We note that the fluoridating agent hydrofluorosalicic acid has not been sanctioned by the Irish Medicines Board.


  1. Fluoridated water should not be used to bottle feed babies;
  2. Given the impracticality of sourcing non-fluoridated water for the bottle feeding of babies, the committee – on the basis of the precautionary principle – believes the practice of water fluoridation should cease immediately;
  3. The savings accruing from the policy change must be assessed in each HSE region. They should be ring-fenced before being re-allocated to educational programmes aimed at the socially deprived, in line with best practice in other European countries;
  4. Independent research into general health effects should be undertaken in order to assess the full impact of lifetime fluoride exposure in the population. Particular attention should be given to effects on infants and children of exposure to fluoride from all sources;
  5. The Minister for Health should not permit indiscriminate medication measures to treat the whole population via water or food because of the inability to control dosage and monitor individual reaction, evidenced by the forty year experience of water fluoridation;
  6. The Government should undertake a major educational programme to encourage healthy eating in order to tackle the twin problems of dental caries and obesity;
  7. More public dentists need to be employed and more regular check ups encouraged;
  8. Parents should be given advice about teeth brushing and the use of fluoridated toothpaste. Along with imaginative education programmes on regular tooth brushing, existing nutritional programmes already underway should continue to target sugary diets of children from 5 yr olds to 15 yr olds. Special emphasis should be laid on initiatives that target the socially disadvantaged where dental decay linked to poor diet is most prevalent; and
  9. Fluoride toothpastes should carry warnings similar to those in the United States about the dangers of swallowing fluoride toothpaste.

For further reading, see this exclusive interview first published in HOTPRESS, where by the former Minister for the Environment John Gormley describes the extraordinary circumstances in which the Oireachtas (Joint Irish Houses of Parliament) draft report on water fluoridation was buried by the Joint Committee on Health and Children, which had commissioned it.



As human beings water is most of what we are and it should be our most understood, respected and cherished of natural resources.